Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What if my employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance or doesn’t file the claim?”
Employees who are injured while working at their job sometimes have the opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries in the form of a workers’ compensation suit. This is a complicated process that has developed over the years. Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeals made a ruling on workers’ compensation cases. In Seguro-Suarez v. Key Risk Insurance Company, the court of appeals found that an employee can sue the workers’ compensation insurance company for malfeasance that occurred in civil court.
Suarez worked for Southern Fiber when he fell two stories onto concrete. Not surprisingly, he suffered serious injuries. These injuries included several broken bones and a severe traumatic brain injury. He survived these injuries, but only with several surgeries, including brain surgery. Even though he survived and went through several surgeries, he never fully recovered and had to live with a brain injury. This brain injury resulted in Suarez needing help doing basic things like eating, dressing, using the restroom, bathing, and other routine tasks.
Southern Fiber’s insurance company was Key Risk Insurance. When Suarez brought a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company tried everything they could to try and deprive Suarez of some of his needed medical care. The insurance company also tried to eliminate his care altogether. There were many tactics employed by the insurance company to do this, including requesting that his adult daughter care for the injured for free, requesting Suarez visit a neurologist with a reputation for releasing those with brain injuries to work, editing footage taken by a private detective to give the appearance of no injury, and forcing Suarez to submit to numerous independent medical examinations.
Even using all the above tactics, courts saw through Key Risk’s attempts and ordered that medical care be provided to Suarez. In response to this, the insurance company took the edited footage of Suarez to the police who subsequently brought multiple charges of insurance fraud against Suarez. While in jail, a court-ordered expert confirmed the legitimacy of Suarez’s injury. The charges were dropped, but Suarez spend nearly a year in custody.
Suarez sued Key Risk Insurance and their employees for the malicious treatment employed, including malicious prosecution and abuse of process. He also sued for unfair and deceptive trade practices in civil court. In response to this, Key Risk attempted to dismiss these claims on the basis of the claims arising out of a workers’ compensation case, precluding him for recovery from the wrongdoing of the insurance company.
The court of appeals did not fall for the insurance company’s theory for dismissal. The court stated that if you used the insurance company’s theory that there can be no recovery, their argument “would allow a worker’s compensation carrier to hire an assassin to kill an injured employee in order to terminate ongoing workers’ compensation but avoid tort liability for wrongful death.” Suarez was permitted to proceed with his additional claims.
Insurance companies are strongly motivated to reduce their liability to pay claims. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are ready to go toe to toe with insurance companies to get you the compensation you are entitled to under the law. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you through every step of the personal injury case. Now taking cases throughout the Charlotte region with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and the new location under renovation in Monroe. Contact us, for a free consultation, call us at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.
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